By Lisa Shrewsberry
Put away the decorations. (Please, put them away). Dust off the Reeboks. It’s time the No. 2 heaviest state in America channels its Hatfields and McCoys ways into a skirmish against poor health habits.
“Fitness is two-thirds what you eat and one-third exercise,” reveals certified trainer and southern West Virginian fitness enthusiast Dewana Waters Grillot.
Mountaineers, especially, could use a primer in balancing input (calories from what’s eaten) and output (calories burned in a day).
Where many begin the year back on the treadmill, an attitude of “Well, I worked out enough to prepay for this heart-shaped brownie” can quickly sabotage a commitment to fitness.
“You can overeat your exercise. You can go into the gym and spend two hours and blow it with one meal at McDonald’s,” explains Grillot.
Over her years of promoting health in these hills, Grillot understands what will and won’t work in strengthening squishy waistlines and mushy inner-resolve. As expected, there’s a yin for every yang, a perfect stance of right eating and purposeful sweating that goes into achieving sustainable fitness goals.
- Stabilize your blood sugar to fight off hunger. “Always combine a protein with a carb and fat together. You never want to eat a carb (bread or potato) by itself. I tell people the perfect meal is something like this: a chicken breast, with avocado slices (for healthy fat) and a side of broccoli,” Grillot says.
- Choose only 100 percent whole grain breads, pastas and rice.
- Eat more, weigh less. “There isn’t a bad veggie or a bad fruit,” Grillot tells her clients. “For example, you can eat five large asparagus stalks for 20 calories. With those, you get fiber (which fills you up), calcium, A, C, E and K. Five large strawberries are only 30 calories. You can eat a whole bell pepper for 31 calories.” A snack of a bell pepper, strawberries and asparagus is not only more filling than a bag of chips, but better by a nutritional mile.
- It takes 3,500 calories to make 1 pound. “If you give up one large sweet tea a day from McDonald’s (on the dollar menu,) that’s 280 calories. You could change NOTHING ELSE and lose 24 pounds in a year.” Sound too good to be true? Grillot’s sister gave up her daily sweet tea and lost 30 pounds in one summer, without changing anything else.
- You can still ALMOST have it all. “When you go to dinner, choose what one extra thing you want — is it the bread, a sweet drink, a glass of wine or dessert? That’s very do-able, and you don’t feel like you’re doing without.”
- If your body is not eating, it’s storing fat. “People come into class all the time and say, ‘I’ve had nothing to eat all day. I’m like, ‘That’s horrible!’” When we don’t eat, our blood sugars drop and the body goes into fat storage mode. Cravings start (driven by hormones beyond your power), and food gets stored as fat, just in case there’s more starvation ahead. So unless you’re on a deserted island or your jaws are wired shut, food abstinence is the least effective technique at weight loss. The body handily overrides it. “People don’t understand. They should eat within an hour of waking up, then every three or four hours throughout the day.”
All the Right Moves
- Don’t despise small beginnings — start slow and celebrate each success.
“Start by walking at home three to four days a week until you get to breathing better and feeling better. Or do a beginner’s yoga class or sculpting class… anything that’s not as difficult as far as movements and staying on beat.” Says Grillot, when people try to do too much, too soon and get overly sore, they tend to slack off. “They don’t want to do it again.”
- Put some spark in your sneakers. “Once you start feeling better, challenge yourself.” Grillot’s newest challenge to clients is R.I.P.P.E.D. (Resistance Interval Power Plyometrics Endurance and Diet), a class she and husband Don lead together at Bodyworks Fitness and Rehabilitation Center in Beckley.
R.I.P.P.E.D. is one of several popular high-intensity programs replacing last decade’s Boot Camp-style workouts, incorporating weight lifting, flexibility and cardio training in intervals, which allow brief transitions and increase heart rate several times during a workout. “It is more effective because it allows your heart rate to go back and forth and you get a better, longer calorie burn.”
Wearing a heart rate monitor, Grillot has proof she burns an average of 600 calories in an hour of R.I.P.P.E.D. and her body continues burning at a higher rate long after. “Most people will burn between 700 and 1,000 total,” she adds.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Grillot completed a college thesis on what motivates people to exercise. Their number one concern was: What do I wear to the gym? “They just want to fit in,” she concludes. Success is 90 percent showing up. “You don’t have to have all the right gear. The most important thing is a good pair of cross-training tennis shoes to support the feet, which support the back.”
For clothing, Grillot suggests comfortable, breathable material loose enough to allow for freedom of motion. Joining group classes may call for a higher degree of modesty. “Wear a shirt that won’t come up over your head if you’re on the floor.” Also match the clothes to the occasion. Running shorts are great for running. But you wouldn’t want to do downward dog in yoga inside a pair of unlined running shorts without a base layer... especially from the front row.
- Grab your partners. “It’s important to have support from your family and that they’re excited you are doing something for yourself. They want you to be around as long as you can be,” maintains Grillot. Going a step further, she suggests finding an accountability partner. “Camaraderie keeps people interested in working out.” Have someone to workout with, who expects you to be there.
- Take heart, be encouraged. The heavier you are, the faster it falls off. “People don’t realize the more you weigh, the more calories you burn.” Someone starting at 200 pounds will burn more calories and lose weight faster than someone who weighs 130 pounds.
For more information on Dewana, her classes or fitness opportunities, contact Bodyworks at 304-255-2376.